War of the Gargantuas: Review
This was a movie that I wanted to review after reviewing all of the Godzilla movies. This is, along with my favorite Godzilla movies, one of my all-time favorite monster movies. Released in 1966 the movie was made by the stellar trio that had made the Godzilla movies up to that point: Director Ishirō Honda, Special Effects, Eiji Tsuburaya and music by Akira Ifukube. Honda wrote the script along with Takeshi Kimura. Kimura wrote many other monster and science-fiction movies for Toho such as, Rodan, The Mysterians, Matango, Frankenstein Conquers the World, War of the Gargantuas, King Kong Escapes, Destroy All Monsters, and Godzilla vs. Hedorah. War of the Gargantuas was a loose sequel to the movie Frankenstein Conquers the World. In the Japanese version of War of the Gargantuas they were called the Frankensteins but all refferences to Frankenstein were dropped in the American version.
Plot Synopsis: The movie begins when a giant green monster attacks a ship. The survivors tell of the giant horrific monster that pushed their ship under water. Soon other appearances of the creature rouse the suspicions of both the military and an American scientist Dr. Paul Stewart (Russ Tamblyn) and his colleague Akemi (Kumi Mizuno). After the Green Gargantua is seen attacking an airport Dr. Stewart and Akemi fear that it may be the Gargantua they took care of a few years ago. However, they continue to insist that their Gargantua was gentle. Shortly the military engages the Green Gargantua with Masers. suddenly as the military is gaining the upper hand, another, larger, Brown Gargantua comes and rescues the Green one. Soon Dr. Stewart and Akemi realize the Brown Gargantua is the one they took care of. They also theorize that the Green Gargantua is the brother of the brown one and was created by cells that had come off him. When the Brown Gargantua saves Akemi after she falls of a cliff she and Dr. Stewart realize he is still gentle and tries to persuade the military to save both of them. The Brown Gargantua is angered when he sees that his brother had eaten the hikers in the mountains and the two begin an epic battle that eventually leads to their demise in a volcano.
Pros: I really like the design of the monsters! Gaira (the Green Gargantua) is uglier than his brown brother, Sanda, who is more ruggedly handsome, if you can even say that about a monster! One of the aspects of the design that I like is that the actual suit actors have their own eyes showing, giving the monsters more emotion and character. These monsters were also smaller in scale than Godzilla and all of his monster pals. Gaira stood 25 meters (82ft) while his brother Sanda stood 30 meters (98ft). The movie has a lot of suspense and when I saw the movie as a young person it was scary. Today some scenes are still a bit creepy. One of my very favorite scenes is when the hikers are walking up the path in the mountains and in fog between the trees they come across the Green Gargantua, It is a short scene but very effective! I like the plot and Kumi Mizuno is sure pleasing on the eye. She is also a very good actress and I like all the Toho Kaiju movies she is in. The movie is well paced and does not drag at all. The story of how one Gargantua is good and the other is evil and how the scientists desire to save the good one, and are unable, is touching. Along with a good story there is plenty of monster action and the final fight between the two brothers is well done.
Cons: For a long time I really didn’t have any complaints for this movie. Sure the ending is pretty identical to the original Rodan movie where both monsters die in a suddenly erupting volcano, but that really never bothered me. In the last couple of years I have noticed a couple of flaws. Someone pointed out to me that Russ Tamblyn practically sleep walks his way through the movie. I think it is sad to say that his performance is pretty mellow. He stays calm, cool and collected through the entire movie and really doesn’t show a large range of emotion. It is noticeable for me yet it really doesn’t detract from my enjoyment of the movie. Another thing I have noticed, and it is only a minor complaint, is that the scale is off for these monsters. I know, I know this maybe something only obsessive nerds like myself may notice. In some scenes the monsters are scaled larger than in others. For example, in the airport scene when Gaira is on the tarmac he towers over the jumbo jets that are there. In the very next scene when Gaira grabs the woman out of the airport and eats her, she hangs out his hand like King Kong carrying Fay Wray! If she was that big then even she wouldn’t fit in the jumbo jets on the tarmac. My other major complaint!? No sequel!!
Thoughts: One of my top favorite monster movies. A classic Toho monster movie, one of their very best. I enjoy it as much as the original Godzilla movie. I never tire of it. I am disappointed that Toho never did a sequel. There were rumors that a sequel with one of the Gargantuas fighting Godzilla was going to be made but never was. A dream I have is that now that monster movies are being made by American studios, it would be great if this one were remade with modern special effects in a big budget American production. A guy can dream can’t he?
Posted on May 29, 2013, in Old Movie Review and tagged (Russ Tamblyn, Akira Ifukube, Destroy all Monsters, Eiji Tsuburaya, Frankenstein Conquers the World, Ishirō Honda, King Kong Escapes, Kumi Mizuno, Matango, Rodan, The Mysterians, War of the Gargantuas. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.